Salesforce implementation: starting costs and ways to save
Every organization recognizes the value of managing customer relationships through a CRM system, but many have trouble finding ways to save on the cost of implementation services (usually paid once) and the cost of licenses (usually paid yearly).
Suppose you consider Salesforce your go-to CRM solution. Salesforce’s strong market leadership, cult following, and robust platform allow the vendor to defend firm (and reasonably consistent) pricing during negotiations. In that case, you should expect the many elements of transforming operations through customer data — add-ons, user training, technical support — to make up a costly list. But implementation alone? Not necessarily.
Having spent over 10 years outfitting clients with Salesforce, iTechArt’s experts are here to break down the hidden costs, help you avoid them, and share actionable tips for selling smarter, growing your business, and providing unrivaled customer service.
Table of contents
Salesforce CRM pricing 101
During Salesforce implementation, keep in mind that the price comprises two components: licenses and the implementation itself.
The licenses is the annual subscription fee you pay every year that you use the system. It’s relatively stable and doesn’t change over time, and includes recurring costs. The whole process is similar to buying a car: in addition to the car price, you also pay for insurance, registration, repairs, routine maintenance, and more. The same applies to a CRM; it requires licenses, technical support, ongoing maintenance, enhancements, and programmatic costs.
At first glance, this pricing seems quite transparent and depends on factors like desired features, the company’s size, and the number of employees that are going to use it. For instance, the Sales Cloud solution includes four packages: Essential, Professional, Enterprise, and Unlimited.
Essential is the cheapest — only $25 for a user per month — and has basic CRM functionality (like lead, account, contact, opportunity, and sales tasks management) with a limited number of users. It’s a perfect solution when you are a startup of between three and six people and have the opportunity to implement the system with an in-house expert and without any outside help. (Remember: you can always upscale the solution as soon as your business grows.)
The Professional package is for mid-sized businesses and teams of any size — $75 for a user per month. For larger organizations, the most popular Sales Cloud solution is Enterprise, as it’s deeply customizable for the cost of $150.
Finally, if you want 24/7 support and configuration services along with rich functionality, you’ll find unlimited CRM power and support in an Unlimited package for $300 per month.
But it’s not THAT simple
The Salesforce pricing model is pretty transparent, but there are a couple pitfalls to watch for.
First: certain features are available for an extra price. These features, called add-ons, enhance your custom Salesforce CRM’s efficiency. In some cases, you just can’t make the most of the out-of-the-box solution without paying a little extra. Even the Unlimited edition comes bundled with several paid add-ons, not to say anything about the other packages. Just have a look at the complete list — pretty impressive!
Second: you’ll want to be sure that the solution you’ve selected is the best-suited option for your business, considering every vital stage from consulting to user training. Understanding precisely how you plan to use your CRM will contribute greatly to the cost-effectiveness of its implementation.
Now, unlike license cost, implementation cost is a one-time investment aimed at setting up the system. Let’s say you’ve chosen the licenses and subscribed to the Salesforce annual cost. Now you are ready to think about implementation. You can do this through an in-house team or a reliable external partner — but which is better?
Let’s have a look at the factors that influence the total cost.
What impacts the cost of Salesforce CRM implementation?
An experienced implementation partner is your fastest ticket to success, helping you build your road map and create the solution design. Consultants differ in cost and often have an hourly rate, and while freelancers charge tangibly lesser than Salesforce consulting partners, the quality may suffer. Conversely, working with Salesforce partners can eliminate many of the risks associated with implementation, thanks to their deep knowledge of the Salesforce platform.
If you want to switch from one CRM system to Salesforce CRM, the process of data migration doesn’t come cheap. It requires checking the data's accuracy, cleaning it for errors and redundancy, and mapping the data to its corresponding Salesforce entries. In some cases, the process presupposes creating custom tools for automated data transfer.
Customization and integrations
When a CRM covers your every need, that means that customization was done successfully. Customization can be done in three major ways; 1) with the help of a consultant and point-and-click functionality, 2) integrations with third parties or existing business systems, and 3) by code options. In most cases, you will probably need all three variants, but the total amount of customization — and, consequently, money — will differ according to your business goals.
User adoption is the prerequisite part of expenses, as end users should know the system down to its most minute details. You can choose self-learning or instructor-led training. The first option is significantly cheaper than a training provider’s hourly rate, but it doesn't guarantee an efficient result. Moreover, the company is better off if they assign an in-house admin and end users or technical users. All in all, the cost depends on the number of participants and departments, and the training mode.
Imagine: the setup is complete, and everything works perfectly. Still, it’s always a good idea to have somebody by your side should something go wrong. The cost of post-deployment support is determined by the length of the service (three months after the solution’s deployment is a desirable minimum) and, of course, the support provider’s hourly rate.
Cost-saving tips and tricks from iTechArt leaders
"Folks are usually looking for the pricing on the Salesforce website, and give up this idea. But please don’t! The thing is, the company might provide discounts you can’t find on the official site. Discounts depend on the product you consider, the type of your business, the industry you work with, your country, and even the time of the year (the end of the financial year is the most profitable when related to Salesforce discounts). That’s why the consultation and advice from an expert can come in handy."
Ekaterina Rusakovich, Business Development Director, Salesforce services
"The main principle when it comes to Salesforce implementation is to start small, think big. There is always an option to start small and fast in the beginning and then gradually move towards complex implementation. As mentioned earlier, Salesforce provides out-of-the-box solutions and start packages that can show great results with lesser setup and minimal expenses for some businesses. As your company is scaling, you can improve your subscription, move to another solution, or buy add-ons."
Alexander Skomyanov, Salesforce Consultant
"If you have no Salesforce experience and need some expert help, but are currently short on money — don’t fret. Any implementation partner can split the teams so that simple configurations and training are handled on your side while we will take on the most technically difficult parts. That way, you’ll save both nerves and money."
Max Bogdanov, Senior Salesforce Technical Consultant
So, will Salesforce implementation cost you a fortune?
On average, Salesforce implementation could cost anywhere between $5k to $100k — this all depends on your appetite. But rest assured, Salesforce is worth its money.
According to the IDC report on the Salesforce economic impact, the average four-year return on your investment will be 300-500%; you’ll also gain a 43% reduction in IT costs, 26% fewer emails, and a 25% reduction in personal meetings.
Still unsure whether you can afford Salesforce for your organization? Reach out to our consultants, who can easily help you assess your needs and estimate your specific cost. And for burgeoning businesses that want to get in with Salesforce on the ground floor, we offer a range of quick-start packages that can deliver everything a startup needs.